Sunday, January 31, 2010

The U.S Wind Industry broke all previous records


The U.S. wind industry broke all previous records by installing nearly 10,000 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity in 2009 (enough to serve over 2.4 million homes), but still lags in manufacturing, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said today in its Q4 report.


These new projects place wind power neck and neck with natural gas ¹ as the leading source of new electricity generation for the country. Together, the two sources account for about 80% of the new capacity added in the country last year.

“The U.S. wind energy industry shattered all installation records in 2009, chalking up the Recovery Act as a historic success in creating jobs, avoiding carbon, and protecting consumers,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “But U.S. wind turbine manufacturing – the canary in the mine -- is down compared to last year’s levels, and needs long-term policy certainty and market pull in order to grow. We need to set hard targets, in the form of a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), in order to provide the necessary stability for manufacturers to expand their U.S. operations and to seize the historic opportunity we have today to build up a thriving renewable energy industry.”

Early last year, before the Recovery Act (ARRA), the industry anticipated that in 2009 wind power development might drop by as much as 50% from 2008 levels, with equivalent job losses. The clear commitment by the President to create clean energy jobs and the swift implementation of ARRA incentives by the Administration in mid-summer reversed the situation. Recovery Act incentives spurred the growth of construction, operations and maintenance, and management jobs, helping the industry to save and create jobs in those sectors and shine as a bright spot in the economy.

At the same time, the continuing lack of a long-term policy and market signal allowed investment in the manufacturing sector to drop compared to 2008, with one-third fewer wind power manufacturing facilities online, announced and expanded in 2009. The result was net job losses in the manufacturing sector, which were compounded by low orders and high inventory. Looking forward, the critical Recovery Act manufacturing incentives that were announced only at the start of this year will also need to be supplemented with the hard targets of a national Renewable Electricity Standard.

With 4,041 MW completed, this fourth quarter was the strongest in the year but still lower than the fourth quarter of 2008.

The 9,922 MW installed last year expand the nation’s wind plant fleet by 39% and bring total wind power generating capacity in the U.S to over 35,000 MW. The five-year average annual growth rate for the industry is now 39%, up from 32% between 2003 and 2008. U.S. wind projects today generate enough to power the equivalent of 9.7 million homes, protecting consumers from fuel price volatility and strengthening our energy security.

America’s wind power fleet will avoid an estimated 62 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to taking 10.5 million cars off the road, and will conserve approximately 20 billion gallons of water annually, which would otherwise be consumed for steam or cooling in conventional power plants.

In state news, Texas consolidated its lead, and Washington pulled ahead of Minnesota in the ranking of the top five states by wind power installed (in MW):

Texas
9,410

Iowa
3,670

California
2,794

Washington
1,980

Minnesota
1,809


The Q4 report is available on the Web site at
http://www.awea.org/publications/reports/4Q09.pdf

Monday, January 25, 2010

Advanced concentrated solar power (CSP) Central Tower R&D project at Masdar City


The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Japan’s Cosmo Oil Company and the Tokyo Institute of Technology have launched an advanced concentrated solar power (CSP) Central Tower R&D project at Masdar City.

The state-of-the-art, collaborative research project will test an innovative “beam down” technology, which has the potential to convert solar irradiation into electricity in a more efficient way than other technologies. According to Masdar, “producing a commercially viable ‘beam down’ process would represent a significant breakthrough in CSP technology”.

The “beam down” process inverts conventional solar tower technologies, which uses mirrors (heliostats) to direct the sun’s rays onto a receiver at the top of a central tower to heat a heat transfer fluid (molten salt, oil, or water) in order to generate steam, which is then used to drive a steam turbine. By placing the receiver at the base of the tower (ground level), the research team believes that they can reduce energy losses resulting from pumping the fluid to an elevated receiver, raising operational efficiency and lowering electricity generation costs.

“The initial project findings have been very positive and if the results continue to be successful, ‘beam down’ technology has the potential to revolutionise the way in which all solar towers are built in the future,” said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, chief executive of Masdar.

The research agreement between Masdar, Cosmo Oil and the Tokyo Institute of Technology is the most recent component of an ongoing effort by the UAE to position itself as a global leader in the area of renewable energy technologies, which began with the establishment of the Masdar Initiative in 2006. Earlier last year, the leadership of Abu Dhabi committed itself to a 7% renewable energy target by the year 2020 and Abu Dhabi was selected to host the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Masdar City.

For his part Hiroyuki WADA General Manager, Future Energy Division, International Ventures Dept. Cosmo Oil Co., Ltd. said: “We are proud to be working with Masdar and the Tokyo Institute of Technology on such a progressive project. The realities of global climate change has highlighted the importance for financially viable alternative sources of energy and the development of ‘beam down’ technology has the potential to be revolutionise the CSP sector.”

Monday, January 04, 2010

World's largest Solar Office Building in China

China has earned the distinction of having the world’s largest solar-powered building. It is situated in Dezhou, Shangdong Province in northwest China. The building covers an area of 75,000-square-meter. The office building is modelled after the sun dial structure.

The building provides many services such as space for exhibition centers, scientific research facilities, meeting and training facilities and a sustainable hotel. This building is named as the Sun and the Moon Altar micro-row buildings. The architecture included the Chinese characters for sun and moon. The solar building has a white exterior that represents clean energy.

The clean and green ideas are not confined to the massive solar array only but can be spotted in the whole building complex. They have utilized only 1% of steel to the Bird’s nest. Their advanced roof and wall insulation system consume 30% less energy than the national energy saving standard. The building will be showcased to the whole world during the 4th World Solar City Congress. The building’s pioneering solar energy and power-saving technologies, a few already patented, include a number of technical advancements that will push forward the mass application of solar energy.

The building will procure 95% of its energy needs from alternative energy sources. They have installed a 5000 square meter solar panel array on the building complex. This building also has the facilities of solar hot water, a solar desalination plant and a solar energy theme park.

Dezhou can safely be termed as a solar city because among 5.5 million people living in this city most of them opted for the solar hot water systems. In this city, solar energy is all pervasive. It powers everything from street lighting to tourist cars.

Greenpeace put forth some statistics for this city. According to them, in 2007, 800,000 people in Dezhou had jobs in the solar panel industry. Greenpeace predicts that this figure is expected to grow to 1,500,000 by 2020.

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